Time and Water Are Running Out

People attending my sustainable gardening classes respond with amazement over how much water I am able to capture from my roof in a typical year here in dry Walnut Creek. Imagine if all new and existing structures were retrofitted to capture water. Imagine if landscapes were designed to allow water to spread and sink and, ultimately, replace groundwater sources. These innovations must be encouraged and incentives offered. The results will be more clean, green jobs for California – jobs that are, by the way, not only desirable but higher paying than conventional ones. (Schlesinger, KPIX news)

Dry mud on a riverbed. (Photo Credit: Alan Parkinson)

Dry mud on a riverbed. (Photo Credit: Alan Parkinson)

Solar installations are subsidized. Why can’t the same be done with water capture and storage features?

Other ideas involving personal choices with regard to water use:

  • Plant food crops suitable for dry land farming and give food and habitat supporting plants priority over purely ornamentals.
  • Introduce rain garden techniques into public and private landscapes.
  • Mandate permaculture and ecology education with the same enthusiasm as Common Core or No Child Left Behind paradigms. Let the school buildings and structures serve for water capture and storage and engage students in doing the math and construction with community support. This would promote sustainable thinking and doing.

The adjustments I propose cost little and can be accomplished quickly.


Photo: Creative Commons

I dream of living in a state in which practicality and respect for nature dictate policy. In California, we need to see the drought as an opportunity to get long-term (and short-term) public policy related to water management right. I look forward to some implementation of the measures I suggest in anticipation of at least some rain this fall.

Nor can we continue to allow existing supplies to become degraded.

Examples of how to manage water effectively abound worldwide, and not only in the developed world. It is time for those who govern us to meet with the developers of the models and adapt them to our needs and foster innovations here. Otherwise we will experience a drought of vision, leadership and human energy even greater than the drought we have in water supply.

In the words of author, Oberlin College professor and Bioneer, David Orr, “It makes better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to attempt to reshape the planet to fit our infinite wants.”

This is the final installment in a four-part series. To read the other installments, click below:

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